New Jersey's governor said his state "must hit pause" on the resumption of indoor dining, which was set to resume this week.
"Under our revised plan indoor dining will now be reset to resume at a later date to be determined," Governor Phil Murphy said at a press briefing Monday afternoon. He added that the state does not want to experience spikes similar to what has been happening across the US, and said it brings him "no joy" to do this.
Murphy in particular mentioned instances in some establishments across his state including "overcrowding" and "complete disregard for social distancing" as well as "very few, if any, face coverings." The "national situation compounded by instances of knucklehead behavior here at home are requiring us to hit pause on the restart of indoor dining for the foreseeable future."
Face coverings such as surgical or cloth masks are required when indoors in public in the state, and businesses are permitted to deny service to anyone not wearing them.
The announcement came as at least 12 other states hit pause on their reopening plans as the country sees a surge in coronavirus cases. Last week, many states broke records for new confirmed cases in a day and the US recorded a record high of single-day confirmed cases with 40,173 reported Friday.
More than half of all states are seeing a rise in cases, and Florida, Texas and Arizona are getting hit particularly hard. Texas has begun scaling back its reopening, and beaches in Florida have closed for the upcoming holiday weekend.
"We have lived through hell in this state to get to where we are," Governor Murphy said on Monday.
"Frankly I'd never thought I'd say these words -- if I could build a wall around us or around our region I would," the Democrat added. "But we can't, so we have to rely on personal responsibility and the right behavior, the common sense for the common good."
Last week, when asked about the scenes of large gatherings scene along the Jersey Shore over the weekend before and whether officials would be stepping up enforcement, Murphy said that he had had private conversations with his team on that subject and "we are going to have to tighten up."
"Folks should know that we can't look the other way," he said, noting that there were "too many viral videos" for his taste.
The governor did not provide further details, suggesting he would come back with more at a later date. He stressed multiple times that the majority of residents have been "incredible" when it comes to compliance.
Additional reporting from Jamie Ehrlich, Elizabeth Hartfield, Christina Maxouris and Eric Levenson